MERCER — Voters in Jackson Township were turned away from the polls for a short time Tuesday when the precinct ran out of ballots.
Mercer County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Thad Hall said Jackson Township and a precinct in Sharpsville were left with a ballot shortage due to an ordering error.
As of 1:30, Hall said both polling locations had a full supply of ballots.
"I totally made a mistake in ordering," Hall said.
Robert Davis of Jackson Township was among those turned away from the polls today.
"There were probably 20 people in line and we all had to go and leave," he said.
No voters were turned away from the polls in Sharpsville because election staff sent voters to use the polling locations' Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant voting devices. Hall said the Sharpsville poll workers acted correctly.
Mercer County began using paper ballots in the November 2019 general election. The ballots are tallied at each polling location with a DS200 optical scan counter, but voters also have the option of using the ExpressVote touchscreen devices, which print a paper ballot that can be counted by the DS200.
Hall said the county's contracted ballot printer had been producing ballots for both precincts that ran short and both precincts were fully supplied by about 1:30 p.m.
The problem arose from the way voter registration figures are listed on the national Statewide Uniform Registry of Elections (SURE) database, Hall said. The database lists precincts in different sequences to list the number of registered voters and number of absentee or mail-in voters.
As a result, Hall said he transposed part of his order for Jackson Township with that for Jackson Center, leaving the former about 800 ballots short.
Hall took over as election director in August, replacing Jeff Greenburg. Hall said that his recent arrival in Mercer County might have played a role in the error.
"It'll never happen again, that's for sure," he said.
Davis said he would definitely return to cast his ballot, but he wasn't happy with the mistake.
"Somebody needs to be held accountable," he said. "This is one of the most important elections in my 59 years. It's ridiculous that they would run out of ballots."